Hotel at a Glance: Dancing Bear Cabins
If you’ve never been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park—and even if you have—Cades Cove loop is a must-see attraction. The 11-mile bike- and car-friendly route cuts through a meadow dotted with 19th-century homesteads and populated by tons of wildlife, including the black bears for which the park is known. Just a few miles away, you can rest up in a private cabin at Dancing Bear Cabins, set on a 36-acre wooded plot in the foothills of the Smokies.
- Continental breakfast: Your cabin will be stocked with food for a complimentary breakfast each morning; items include homemade granola, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, Starbucks coffee, and orange juice.
- Romantic getaway: Dancing Bear Cabins makes a great romantic destination, with such amenities as a wood-burning fireplace and a hot tub. Additional amenities include feather beds, a private bathroom, a full kitchen, and a porch.
- Rent a grill for a small fee, and you can have a barbecue on the front porch of your cabin.
Townsend, Tennessee: Peaceful Entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains
Townsend’s nickname is “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies.” This tiny town (population 244) in eastern Tennessee has the least-busy entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with its over 500,000 acres of protected forests, hiking trails, and picturesque streams. In Townsend, you’ll find none of the kitsch and tourist-geared trappings of Gatlinburg, another main entrance to the park. Instead, you’ll find a few local restaurants and stunning mountain views at every turn.
Head to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center to learn more about the history of the area via exhibits such as a hand-built log cabin and Native American artifacts; an outdoor theater hosts live shows. If you’re in the mood to get out of town, Dolly Parton’s country theme park, Dollywood, is less than an hour’s drive away in Pigeon Forge.